Featured, Tafseer

“They desire to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths but Allah will perfect His Light, though the disbelievers hate it.”

The following is based on a translation of Dr Fadhel al Samarrai’s Tafseer of Surah Saff. Regimes throughout the world use various means in an attempt to extinguish the work to resume the Islamic way of life. They use bans, arrest, torture, imprisonment and label the message of Islam as extremist and terrorist. However, this verse makes it crystal clear that no matter how much they try, Allah’s light (guidance) cannot be extinguished and Allah will ensure the Islamic message prevails.

يُريدونَ لِيُطفِئوا نورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفواهِهِم وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نورِهِ وَلَو كَرِهَ الكافِرونَ

They desire to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths but Allah will perfect His Light, though the disbelievers hate it.

(Surah Saff, verse 8)

This verse is sarcasm against the disbelievers because it compared their rejection and concealing of the description of Muhammad ﷺ, their rejection of the truth which he brought, and their saying that he is a clear sorcerer, with the one who tries to blow out the light of the sun with his mouth in order to extinguish it.

Allah says: نُورَ اللَّـهِ ‘the light of Allah’ to indicate that what Muhammed ﷺ brought is the light of Allah to guide the creation by it. Also the light of Allah cannot be extinguished because it is more stable and intense than the light of the sun. This is because the sun disappears and its light withdraws, whereas for the light of Allah, nothing can withdraw it and no one can extinguish it.

As for the laam in لِيُطْفِئُوا ‘to extinguish’ it is possible that it is extra for the object for emphasis and originally it is: يُرِيدُونَ ان ِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ

It is also possible that it is for ta’leel (reason) i.e. their intention is for this purpose in the sense that all of their concern will be exhausted for this purpose of extinguishing Allah’s light.

You may say that Allah says in Sura Al-Tawba:

يُرِيدُونَ أَن يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّـهُ إِلَّا أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ

They desire to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths. But Allah refuses to do other than perfect His Light, even though the disbelievers detest it.”

(Tawba, 9:32)

and He (swt) did not say: يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ so what is the difference?

The answer is that the laam came with the object of the verb for emphasis. The verse of Al-Saff is emphasised, because the context is the Christian’s denial of the glad tidings of the coming of Muhammad ﷺ as mentioned in the previous verses verse 6 and verse 7:

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُوَ يُدْعَىٰ إِلَى الْإِسْلَامِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ بِأَفواهِهِم وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نورِهِ وَلَو كَرِهَ الكافِرونَ

And when ‘Isa son of Maryam said, ‘Oh Tribe of Israel, I am the Messenger of Allah to you, confirming the Torah which came before me and giving you the good news of a Messenger after me whose name is Ahmad.’ When he brought them the Clear Signs, they said, ‘This is obvious magic.’ Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents a lie against Allah when he has been called to Islam? Allah does not guide wrongdoing people. They desire to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths but Allah will perfect His Light, though the disbelievers hate it.

(as-Saff, verses 6-8)

The light of Allah is Islam. So the Christians denied the glad tidings mentioned in their books about Muhammad ﷺ, and trying to extinguish the light of Allah. The verse came therefore with the laam to indicate emphasis.

As for the verse in Al-Tawba the context is different, and the verse was mentioned in another context which does not require the same emphasis.

Allah says:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَبْلُ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا ۖ لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

يُرِيدُونَ أَن يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّـهُ إِلَّا أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ

The Jews say, ‘‘Uzayr is the son of Allah,’ and the Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the son of Allah.’ That is what they say with their mouths, copying the words of those who were disbelievers before. Allah fight them! How perverted they are! They have taken their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allah, and also the Messiah, son of Maryam. Yet they were commanded to worship only one God. There is no god but Him! Glory be to Him above anything they associate with Him! They desire to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths. But Allah refuses to do other than perfect His Light, even though the disbelievers detest it.

(Tawba, 9:30-32)

The context of the verses in As-Saff is directed at the Prophet ﷺ and their attempt at denial so it came with laam.

Whereas the context of the verses in Al-Tawba is blaming the beliefs of the Jews and Christians regarding Uzair, the Messiah, priests and rabbis. So it came with an additional laam in the verse of As-Saff because the discussion was about the prophet Muhammad ﷺ and it did not come in the verse of At-Tawba because the context is different.

Form another angle, the place of rejection of the Jews and Christians in their associating partners with Allah (shirk), came with laam because the matter requires emphasis. Allah says,

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا

‘Yet they were commanded to worship only one God’

(Tawba, 9:31)

Look how Allah brought the extra laam for specification in his saying: يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ and His (swt) saying وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا . This is because the situation requires that, and the laam is omitted in the place which it does not require it.

The saying وَاللَّـهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ Allah will perfect His Light’ also indicates this. So the active participle مُتِمُّ was brought to indicate permanence in the sense that the matter was established and constant as compared to At-Tawba وَيَأْبَى اللَّـهُ إِلَّا أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ where the imperfect tense verbيُتِمَّ  was brought preceded byأَن  and this is to specify it for the future. This is because أَن naseeba on the imperfect tense verb is from the particles of future. Therefore, what is in this verse of Al-Saff, is for emphasis, and Allah Knows best.

Allah says: بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ‘with their mouths’ to indicate the situation of ridicule for their actions. This is because the one who tries to blow out the light of the sun in order to extinguish it is the object of ridicule. So if they could not blow out the light of the sun which is powerful with their mouths, then how about the case of the light of Allah which is even more powerful.

This is from one angle, and from another angle, the verse mentioned their denial and their lies against Allah, when they said هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ ‘this is clear sorcery’ after he brought them evidences. All of this is from the war of their mouths so Allah said: بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ‘with their mouths’ and Allah knows best.

Certainly, Allah has accomplished what he promised and completed His light despite the arrogance of the disbelievers.